Applying for Social Security Disability for a Mental Illness or Psychological Condition (Part 1) –
In this two part article, our experienced Long Beach attorneys discuss applying for Social Security Disability for mental illness and other psychological conditions.
To collect Social Security Disability for Mental Illness or a Psychological Condition three elements must be met:
1. You must have a “medically determinable impairment” that is diagnosis based on objective evidence,
2. Your Mental Illness or a Psychological Condition will last for at least a year, and,
3. Your Mental Illness or a Psychological Condition prevents you from being able to hold any job.
Social Security Documents Used in Evaluating Your Case:
A great many forms need to be completed, and documents submitted, in order to prove to SOcial Security that your Mental Illness or a Psychological Condition meets the three criteria listed above. If you are suffering from impaired mental functioning, preparing these forms, compiling these documents, and submitting the required medical records can be an overwhelming task.
For this reason it is often wise to have an experienced Social Security Disability attorney help you through the process. Listed below are the many forms and documents you will need to submit in order to be approved for Social Security Disability. However, these are just general guidelines and are no substitute for the advice, guidance and representation of an experienced Social Security Disability attorney.
Social Security Disability Application Form
The first document to start the Social Security Disability process is the application. You may complete it yourself, or you may request help from a Social Security representative either over the phone or in-person.
When you fill out your disability application, it is essential to be very thorough. You must be careful to list all of your medical conditions, as well as submit proof that your condition prevents you from working. Do not leave anything out, as often a “combination” of factors is what actually leads to Social Security Disability approval.
Social Security Disability ADL Function Report
Social Security examiner will also have you complete a questionnaire [Function Report (Form SSA-3373)] about your activities of daily living (called “ADLs”). You will be required to describe all of the ways that your Mental Illness or a Psychological Condition limits your daily life. The questionnaire will include questions about all of your activities, including the time you spend with others, doing chores or housework, shopping, getting around outside the home, spending money, and more.
Always, be thorough. For example if your condition causes you to have trouble following directions, or makes it difficult to get along with coworkers or supervisors, describe those problems in your ADL questionnaire.
Social Security Disability: Medical Records
Social Security must review any and all of your relevant medical records going back at least twelve months before the date of your application. So, in your application, make sure to list every single one of your medical treatment providers, including: your physicians, counselors, therapists, psychologists, psychotherapists, hospitals or clinics. You will also have to sign an Authorization to Disclose Information [Form SSA-827] that authorizes your medical records to be released to the SSA.
While the Social Security Administration does have the duty to try and get all of your medical records, submitting them yourself will help speed up your case. When you submit your records yourself, you also can be certain that nothing is missed.
Social Security: Psychiatric or Neurological Tests
The medical records that come from your doctors and treatment providers should contain the results of any and all psychiatric, neurological, or psychological tests you’ve had related to your condition. Most mental health conditions are not simply evaluated with an objective test – so it is up to you to supply complete records that show “the big picture” in order to obtain a favorable decision. If objective testing is possible for your condition (eg, CT scans for Alzheimer’s disease; IQ test for mental retardation), the Social Security Administration will give these serious weight – so be sure to include them.
Social Security Disability: Treatment Notes
Probably the most important source of documentation needed for your mental or psychological disability claims is the Treatment Notes from your mental health treatment providers. Social Security want to see the specific details of your treatment, including: your exact diagnosis (in medical terminology), your specific symptoms, your doctor’s treatment plan, your short-term and long-term prognosis, as well as any and all medication you have been prescribed.
Unfortunately, doctor’s Treatment Notes can often be unclear, incomplete, contain insufficient details- or be ambiguous or open to interpretation. For this reason it is often wise to have an experienced Social Security Disability attorney help you through the process.